Staying present is REAL

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The struggle to stay present is REAL.

Living in the present is such a foreign concept to many of us. With today’s technological advances and our societal drive toward the future, it is increasingly more difficult to pause and remain where our feet are planted. Being in the “now” is one of my client’s greatest challenges - the feedback is generally - we’re already here, so how can we not be in the “now?"

There is an enemy in the pursuit of staying present - the mind. (Mr. Eckhart Tolle’sThe Power Of Now is a fantastic resource if you want to dive deeper into that notion). So often we find ourselves thinking: How in the world am I supposed to stop and think about this very moment when I have 1,000,0001 things to do this afternoon?

I’ll get around to being “present” after I clear out my inbox - which is a mile long. Or, I could squeeze in being in the “now” right after I swing by Target because I forgot to get my Niece a birthday present…I should probably snag some squash at Publix because it is right there and I know we have that neighborhood potluck this weekend - squash would make a great base for a large batch of soup. Maybe I should grab stuff for dinner tonight while I’m there — do we have frozen turkey in the freezer that I could use for turkey burgers? Didn’t we just have turkey burgers last week? Oh, right…the inbox. I’ll start on that first. 

Sound familiar?

We toggle from thought to thought and our brains naturally analyze our passing internal dialogues quickly and efficiently. It takes effort to slow down and focus our thoughts on the present moment. Making the choice to change your thoughts is nothing short of addictive. For me it is kind of like the Cold Stone Ice Cream sizes - like it, love it, gotta have it! It’s a slow feed that becomes irresistible. 

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Now is truly all we have. The past is our story and the future has not yet unfolded - it’s a mystery! Try using these 5 methods to stay present. When you’ve mastered those, I have 1 trick/game that I encourage my clients to play (yes, I’m giving you a game to play) to help you stay where your feet are planted!

1. Allow anything that is no longer in alignment with your highest good to fall away. 

I put the most challenging piece of advice first. This one can be very scary and it can take a great deal of courage. Sir. Winston Churchill said that courage is a decision. I believe that and that courage is like a muscle that is strengthened by use. Once you start to be aware of the things and the people and the situations that are serving you, the change and choice will be quite clear in gravitating toward what will continue to foster your highest good. 

2. When you fear the future or you feel sadness or anger about the past, look down at your feet, firmly plant them, and begin again. 

There is great freedom, wonder, and mystery in the present. Look around, ask, seek, and discover that which is waiting to be discovered by you and expressed through you. Regain your childlike curiosity. I always suggest a gratitude journal or meditation! 

3. Whatever is showing up in your current experience is meant to be there or it wouldn’t be.

I grew up with my Dad saying: “It is what it is,” and it used to drive me nuts. Now I see and appreciate Satya (that which is or “the truth”) everywhere and use that mindset to stay present. This is also a great way to practice putting life into perspective and moving from victim to victor in situations. Whether or not you believe in fate, it is empowering to consider that everything can have meaning in life. 

4. Surrender to knowing nothing.

Wherever you are, be all there. Washing ourselves clean of everything we have ever learned or think we know will create balance, and allow for a surrender to a power greater than ourselves. Much like a young child, knowing nothing makes us teachable. Approach with innocence ignorance - let go of your perceptions and let everything be as it may. 

5. Let go of what you are still holding on to that needs to be released.

The primary cause of unhappiness is not the situation but your feelings toward it. In order to be present and live in the now  we must clear out or clean out the space for feelings, people, and situations that are holding you back to make room for your highest good. Think about this like clearing out your closet or doing a Spring Cleaning.

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Ok, are you ready for my trick to stay present and keep my feet planted in the now?

It’s totally silly, but when I’m walking down the street, I like to imagine other people’s secret skills. Maybe the guy across the street getting into his car makes the very best cannolis and his recipe has been passed down through three generations. Or, I think of the lady waiting at the cross walk loves to garden but only enjoys growing  Sunzilla Sunflowers. Or maybe you notice the person in the car sitting at the stoplight and think that they must be a talented and undiscovered painter. Their specialty is conch shells which they developed an affinity for during their honeymoon at Sea Island. A creative mind and a playfulness will allow you to walk around believing that each person that you come to pass has a unique offering to the world, and being present in that very same world becomes less stressful and fun.

And remember, as Mr. Tolle himself would say: “Nothing has happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.”

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Meghan Ann Martin